Connections is a new arts-based program serving community-dwelling adults with mild to moderate memory loss and their care partners living in WNC.

This program builds and reinforces connections between:

  • program participants + art, artists, and ideas, through personally meaningful discussions and activities
  • adults with memory loss + their care partners, through stimulating, in-the-moment outings
  • adults with memory loss and their care partners + the Asheville Art Museum (staff, volunteers, Collection, and special exhibitions), through regular visits and programs
  • program participants + peers, through social interactions with those who are experiencing similar challenges resulting from memory loss
  • brain health + social participation, through multisensory engagement with art

Studies show that art therapy can enhance communication, brain function, and social interaction for people living with dementia. In fact, visual art can trigger dormant memories and emotions, inspiring conversations among patients who normally struggle to express themselves. Additionally, artmaking activities stimulate the whole brain of all people, not just adults with memory loss. Instead of simply responding to images, patients must plan, remember, create patterns, and use motor skills.

Connections is based on similar programs taking place in art museums in the United States and around the world that address the need for community gatherings and safe spaces to stimulate the minds of adults with memory loss (i.e. living with Alzheimer’s Disease, any form of dementia, and other memory loss), their care partners, and Museum staff and volunteers. Connections serves the Museum’s vision of transforming lives through art, and its mission of engaging and inspiring individuals and enriching community through dynamic experiences in American art of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Connections offers both virtual and small-group/in-person options each month. Led by specially trained Museum staff, contractors, and volunteers, Connections programs include:

  • Time for conversation preceding the day’s program, where participants can meet Museum staff and volunteers, and each other
  • A guided experience, either in the virtual space or in the galleries, that invites conversation about artworks in the Museum’s Collection and/or special exhibitions

In addition, to complement the small-group/in-person program, we offer a hands-on, artmaking, or other multisensory/interactive activity in the studio/classroom or gallery spaces that relates to the guided experience. (Please note that complementary group activities have been put on hold temporarily until it is safe to once again have a more interactive experience.)

We invite Connections participants to start your visit with lunch in Perspective Café preceding the day’s program. In addition to free Museum general admission, Connections participants receive a 10% discount on food and non-alcoholic beverages on the day of the program; please be sure to pick up your Connections name badge at the welcome desk when arriving at the Museum.

Want to book a Connections tour for your group? Groups of 10+ adults from day programs, assisted living, or other memory-care support can book a Connections-style gallery tour with one of our specially trained guides. These group tours must be booked in advance, and offer a unique and engaging experience for group outings, with more flexibility in timing and structure than the monthly Connections program. To book a group tour, click here and be sure to specify “Connections” as your requested tour.

Want to get the latest news about Connections? To be added to our Connections mailing list, click here or call 828.253.3227 x122. To contact Kate Faulkner, director of learning and engagement, click here.

Generous support for this program is provided by the TD Charitable Foundation. Connections was developed thanks to a Ribbon of Hope grant from the NC GlaxoSmithKline Foundation. Many thanks to Mountain Explorers and the Charles George VA Medical Center for participating in pilot programming, and to Dementia Friendly WNC for assistance with program design and training.

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Enrich your involvement with the Museum by joining our vibrant family of Members. Experience great art while mingling with fellow art lovers at an opening reception, watch a local ceramist throw a pot in her studio, discover new creative skills at a workshop—all this and more. As a Member, you will enjoy a wide range of benefits while providing vital support for the Museum’s engaging education programs and innovative exhibitions. We invite you to join us! Join, renew, or give the gift of Museum membership today.

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